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Clif Hotvedt's picture

A Blockbuster for Melanoma and Beyond?



Yervoy, the new Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) medication for inoperable or metastatic melanoma approved on March 25 is clearly an achievement for the company and illustrates the challenges facing pharmaceutical companies trying to fill their pipelines with promising agents.  As Andrew Pollack described the process in the New York Times (, the novel mechanism of action was discovered at Berkeley in the mid-1990s, but as the inventor said, “The idea was so new it was hard to get somebody to take it.” It was ultimately licensed to one company that sublicensed it to another, that partnered with BMS and was subsequently purchased by BMS.   Meanwhile, the first company to license it was acquired by yet another company that sold its rights to the drug to the sublicensing company.  Most recently, BMS has partnered with Roche to investigate the combination of Yervoy and Roche’s investigational vemurafenib in patients with a specific type of late-stage melanoma.

Yervoy is not chemotherapy and it’s not a monoclonal antibody blocking a malevolent pathway.  Rather,

Alexander Watson's picture

Working to Support Communications in pharmEmerging Markets: What Does the Near Future Hold for Us – Death or Glory?


Having worked for 15 exciting, tough years in the PR agency
worl[[wysiwyg_imageupload:57:]]d supporting Big Pharma global communications in core markets I have felt my heart harden. I have also fashioned for my mind resilient armour that accepts the challenges of change and the breakneck pace of this amazing business environment.  I can see, however, that our next five years look set to be truly turbulent times.

Only proactive and passionate communication leaders who can confidently navigate a clear path through this storm will win.  Our clients are often asked to tighten purse strings. While we are called to work smarter in order to invest in much needed reconnaissance to help us shape new communications strategies and train our teams to meet the changing needs of our clients. Those who do not have an appetite for change may soon find themselves as stuffed exhibits in their local natural history museums.    Read full post »

Molly Borowitz's picture

Weekly Digest: Parkinson’s, Restless Legs, and Violet Eyes


Early symptoms of Parkinson’s disease detectable in sleep patterns

 As reported by, a recent large-scale evaluation of the socioeconomic costs of Parkinson’s disease revealed that the condition’s earliest symptoms may be detectable in REM sleep. A group of Danish researchers affiliated with the University of Copenhagen found that Parkinson’s sufferers experienced problematic changes in their work and health statuses up to eight years before they were diagnosed with the neurodegenerative disorder. One of those changes was the sleep disorder RBD (REM sleep Behavior Disorder), in which the brain fails to prevent muscle movement during REM sleep. Read full post »

Jeff Levine's picture

Healthcare Reform: From the Beginning


Jeff Levine is an award-winning journalist who was the medical correspondent for CNN for 17 years.  He has also worked on Capitol Hill for Senator Byron Dorgan, as Washington bureau chief for WebMD, and as a media specialist at Ketchum.  The following is the first in a series of Jeff’s perspective on the Affordable Care Act. – Nancy Hicks, Senior Vice President, Associate Director, Ketchum North America Healthcare Practice


[[wysiwyg_imageupload:55:]]It’s hard to believe that the “Affordable Health Care Act” has just turned one year old.  In fact, it’s hard to believe that the Congress was able to pass any comprehensive health reform law, given the historic obstacles. 

As a health care reporter, I witnessed the demise of the Clinton plan. Personally from CNN’s Washington bureau in 1994 as democratic supporters tried in vain to get the bill to the senate floor for a vote. Read full post »

Clif Hotvedt's picture

Personalized Medicine Reality Check



One of the challenges of being in the ahead-of-the-curve business of communicating about advances in medical science is that based on publications and specialized conferences it may seem that a concept like personalized medicine is rapidly advancing, but out in practice it may not be progressing at all.  Such is the feeling I got when I read “Genetics, Your Heart and Your Future,” the keynote address by the American College of Cardiology’s CEO, Jack Lewin, MD, at the conference, “New Frontiers in Personalized Medicine: Cardiovascular Research & Clinical Care” held recently at George Washington University. Read full post »